Staff and Fellows
Dr Joram Tarusarira is Assistant Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the University of Groningen. He studied Religious Studies and Philosophy in Zimbabwe, Peace and Post-Conflict Reconciliation studies in Ireland, and Adult Education and Community Development in Canada. Dr Tarusarira attained a PhD from the Institute for African Studies at the University of Leipzig (Germany), where he was a German Research Foundation doctoral candidate of the Research Training Group ‘Religious Non-Conformism and Cultural Dynamics.’ He was briefly a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Doctoral School at the Center for Reconciliation Studies at the Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena . His primary research topics in which he has published journal articles and book chapters include the role of religion in conflict and its transformation, religion and post-conflict reconciliation, religious non-conformism and cultural dynamics, religion and civil society, and social movements. Furthermore, he brings a wealth of practical experience from working with civil society organisations and social movements in Zimbabwe. He is the author of Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-Conformism in Zimbabwe, London, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2016.
Communication & Logistics Officer + Assistant Editor Religion Factor
Roos Feringa is responsible for the communication and logistics at the CRCG. She’s also the assistent editor of the CRCG’s blog The Religion Factor. As assistant editor she is responsible for proof reading and editing of the blogs, communication with contributors and promotion of the blog. Roos is currently enrolled in the ‘Religion in the Public Domain’ master track from the faculty of Theology and Religious studies in Groningen (where she also received her Bachelor’s degree) and has just returned from a research internship regarding religious hate speech in Indonesia. Her main focus in the master is secularism, authoritarianism, religion in Turkey, religious hate speech and the relation between religion, politics and civil society.
(Co-)Convenors of Research Clusters
Dr Erin K. Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Politics, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. From 2012-2017, she was founding director of the CRCG (then known as the CRCPD). Her research is positioned at the intersection of religious studies and International Relations, with particular interest in the impact of secular worldviews in areas of global justice, human rights, forced migration, development and gender, and the development of alternative theoretical frames beyond ‘religious’ and ‘secular’. Her books include The Refugee Crisis and Religion: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question (co-edited with Luca Mavelli, Rowman and Littlefield International 2016), After Secularism: Rethinking Religion in Global Politics (Palgrave 2012), and Justice Globalism: Ideology, Crisis, Policy (with Manfred B. Steger and James Goodman, Sage 2013). She has co-edited The religious as political and the political as religious: the blurring of sacred and secular in contemporary International Relations (Special Issue of Politics Religion Ideology), and her articles have appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Refugee Studies, Globalizations, Politics Religion Ideology and Global Society.
Dr Renée Wagenvoorde is is a member of the Postsecular and Political Belonging research cluster. She received her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Groningen in 2015. Her research is interdisciplinary, bringing together insights from political philosophy, political practice and policy, and experiences of citizens. By combining philosophical and empirical research on socially relevant issues - such as migration, the role of religion in the public domain, tolerance vs deep pluralism, and postsecular citizenship - Dr Wagenvoorde aims to close the gap between social sciences and philosophy and between academia and civil society. Her first book 'Is Citizenship Secular? Conceptualising the relation between religion and citizenship in contemporary Dutch society' was published in 2015 with LIT.
Brenda Bartelink is fellow on religion, development and faith based organizations (FBO) and co-convenor of the research cluster Sexuality, Gender and Multiple Modernities. She is experienced in working with FBOs and civil society organizations around issues of development, gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, both from an academic and professional perspective. She is currently works as a senior project officer for the Knowledge Center on Religion and Development at Oikos Foundation and is finalizing her PhD research on Religion, Aids and Sexuality in the Development relations between FBOs in the Netherlands and East Africa and .
Dr Kim Knibbe is Assistant Professor in the Department for the Comparative and Historical Study of Religion at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen. She has worked on Nigerian Pentecostal churches in Europe, on Catholicism and on contemporary spirituality. Her first book, Faith in the Familiar, is forthcoming with Brill in 2013, alongside a co-edited volume (with Anna Fedele) on contemporary spirituality with Routledge. Dr Knibbe is also the coordinator of the Religion, Conflict and Globalization Masters trajectory in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.
Dr Elizabeth Fernandez is a Fellow and Co-Convenor of the Science, Religion and Philosophy Cluster. She has a PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, and currently works at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute. As a fellow of the Centre, she analyzes philosophical and ethical consequences of scientific discoveries. In addition to her research, she has participated in interfaith dialog, including appearing on the radio and television to discuss interfaith relations and participating in an trip to Turkey to create bridges between the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.
Dr Jay Johnston is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Sydney, Australia and Co-Convenor of the Science, Religion and Philosophy Cluster. Dr Johnston is an interdisciplinary researcher who utilises her training in religious studies, continental philosophy, gender studies and art history to investigate theories of the intermediary, or 'in between', and its role in religious belief and practice. This includes examining the way material culture, the environment and the understanding of animal subjectivity is used to evidence relations across metaphysical/faith boundaries. In particular she rethinks theories of embodiment, agency, image and materiality and their use in the construction of individual identity and the negotiation of cultural difference. She is particularly interested in the relationship between aesthetic experience and ethical behaviour.
Dr Heinrich Matthee is a fellow of the CRCPD and the convenor of the (forthcoming) research clusterStates, markets and religion. Dr Matthee is a political risk analyst for companies and NGOs operating in the Middle East and Africa. Previously, he worked as a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and as editor of the Emirates Occasional Papers at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in the UAE. Dr. Matthee has a D. Phil. in political science from Marburg University, Germany. He has written a book on Muslim identities and political strategies (2008), acts as a book reviewer for Middle East Policy and has contributed to the International Encyclopedia of Political Science (2011). His main research interests concern the interaction of states, markets and religious communities and the implications for international business.
Dr Julia Martínez-Ariño is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). She received her PhD in Sociology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) in 2012. She has been research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany) and a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Chaire Religion, culture et société at the Université de Montréal (Canada) . Currently, she is also research associate of the Religion and Diversity Project (Dir. Lori Beaman, University of Ottawa, Canada) and the research unit ISOR (Dir. Mar Griera, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), where she worked as a PhD student and researcher. She is co-founder of the "Religion and Public Institutions" Research Network , member of the EUREL network and Co-editor-in-chief of the journal New Diversities . Her main research interests are the governance of religious diversity, in particular in cities and public institutions, namely prisons, hospitals and schools. In her PhD she studied the contemporary Jewish communities of Spain. She has done research in Spain, Canada, Germany and France.
Dr Méadhbh McIvor is Assistant Professor in Religion, Law and Human Rights at the University of Groningen, where she also convenes the Religion, Law and Human Rights Research Cluster. Méadhbh is a social anthropologist with a particular interest in the anthropologies of law and religion. Her research focuses on law, Christianity, and the politics of religious freedom in the contemporary United Kingdom, where she has carried out long-term participatory fieldwork split between a conservative Christian lobby group and a conservative evangelical church. Méadhbh received her PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE). Prior to joining the University of Groningen, she taught at University College London (UCL).
Dr Luca Mavelli is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, UK. Prior to this, Luca was a lecturer at the University of Surrey, an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sussex, and held teaching positions at the University of Queensland, Australia and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research focuses on questions of religion, secularity, postsecularity, security and political violence in international relations. He is the author of Europe’s Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular (Routledge 2012), and the co-editor of The Postsecular in International Relations (2012 Special Issue of the Review of International Studies) and of Towards a Postsecular International Politics: New Forms of Community, Identity, and Power (Palgrave, 2014). His articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, International Politics, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Journal of Religion in Europe, and Teaching in Higher Education. He is a Fellow of the CRCPD and co-convenor of the Postsecular and Political Belonging Research Cluster. He is also the co-author, with CRCPD director Erin Wilson, of the policy paper released last year "Faith and the asylum crisis: The role of religion in responding to displacement."
Dr John A. Rees is Associate Professor of International Relations and Director (Acting) of the Institute for Ethics & Society (IES) at The University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney campus). The IES is one of three national institutes of The University Notre Dame Australia. John is the founding convener of the IES Religion & Global Ethics program which has attracted a high-caliber array of national and international speakers, publications and developing partnerships, and a doctoral research cohort. The 2017 IES Religion & Global Society Lecture was delivered by the founding director of the CRCG, Dr Erin K. Wilson.
John Rees is a recognized scholar of religion in International Relations and conducts research at the intersections of religious practice and international policy. He is the co/author of books, chapters and journal articles on religion and global affairs. John has recently edited two special editions on aspects of politics and religious practice in the Asia-Pacific. His early work is included in the primer Religion & Foreign Affairs: Essential Readings (Baylor, 2012). A committed educator in the study of religion and global affairs, John designed one of Australia's first specialized IR undergraduate subjects in the study of religion and world politics, and has written on the subject of ‘religion and culture’ for a popular international pre-University IR text. Dr Rees is the recipient of awards for teaching excellence from the Australian Government and Notre Dame Australia. He has delivered guest lectures to undergraduate and graduate classes in the United States as well as keynote public lectures and presentations in Australia, the United States, and the Philippines. John facilitated a workshop and a conference session as part of the CRCG anniversary celebrations in 2017.
Dr Emily Thomas is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Groningen, and a member of the CRCG Science, Religion and Philosophy research cluster. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, in 2013. Dr Thomas mostly works on time and space in the history of metaphysics. An ongoing side project is the recovery of women philosophers who have traditionally been neglected in the history of their discipline.
Kholoud Al Ajarma is an award winning Palestinian photographer, film-maker, refugee-rights activist, researcher and anthropologist. Kholoud is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen with primary focus on Islamic pilgrimage (hajj) and its meaning in everyday life in Morocco. She is a graduate of International Studies, Peace Studies, and Anthropology and Development Studies. Prior to her current work, Kholoud worked in the field of refugee studies, international migration, visual culture, knowledge production, and immigration in Latin America and the Middle East. Kholoud has worked with Palestinian refugees in Palestine, Europe and Latin America. In Palestine, she led projects in the field of refugees, peace, and youth empowerment including the 'Refugee Youth Forum,' an innovative platform for active youth participation within human rights research, media, conflict resolution, and social justice.
Marjo Buitelaar is full professor Contemporary Islam at the faculty of Theology & Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her research interests focus on Islam in everyday life, narrative identity construction and migration. She is programme leader of an interdisciplinary research project on modern articulations of pilgrimage to Mecca. Previous research projects concerned ethnographic studies on the hammam (public bath) and the fasting month Ramadan in Morocco, and a life story project about the upward mobility of daughters of Moroccan migrants to the Netherlands. She is one of the lead educators of the MOOC Religion & Conflict. Her most recent (co-edited) books are: Negotiating Autonomy and Authority in Muslim Contexts (2103); Religious Voices in Self-Narratives (2013); Hajj: Global Interaction through Pilgrimage (2015).
Kat Eghdamian is a specialist researcher on religion, forced migration, and minority rights issues. Her current research focus on the relationship between religious identity and experiences of international displacement, with a focus on religious minorities among Syrian refugee populations in the Middle East. In addition to academic and policy-oriented publications, her work has recently appeared in The Conversation, ABC Radio National, and The Washington Post. Currently a PhD candidate (ESRC Scholar) at University College London (UCL), Kat is also a Research Associate at the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs and a Consultant at the human-centred innovation agency, Mensch. She holds postgraduate degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford, and has been a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. She is also a qualified barrister and solicitor where she had worked in human rights advocacy and research for almost a decade before entering academia.
Dr Glendinning has a BPhil and a DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University. He is Reader in European Philosophy and Director of the Forum for European Philosophy in the European Institute at the London School of Economics. Dr. Glendinning's main research interests concern the religious roots of Europe’s modern cultural identity. Three recent journal articles – ‘Japheth’s World: The Rise of Secularism and the Revival of Religion Today’, ‘The End of the World made with Men in Mind’ and ‘Three Cultures of Atheism: On Serious Doubts about the Existence of God’ – develop a sustained critique of the conception of European modernity that underlies standard construals of the decline of theism in Europe today.
Dr Ton Groeneweg has a background in literary studies and philosophy, and holds a PhD from Leiden University. For the past fifteen years, he has been working in the development sector, with a special focus on the interaction of religion and development issues. He is presently working at the Asia program and as policy officer for religion and development at the organization Mensen met een Missie.
Vlado Kmec is member of the research clusters Religion, Peace and Security as well as Religion and Global Institutions. As a scholar trained in international relations, peace and conflict studies, sociology, anthropology, religious studies and theology, Vlado researches various intersections of religion, social issues and international affairs. He offers expertise in religion and migration; religion in conflict and peacebuilding; ethnic and religious conflicts; religion and international relations; mediation and negotiation; the United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. He studied at the University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, Georg-August University in Göttingen, Humboldt University Berlin, University of Ottawa, Comenius University in Bratislava, Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, and Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen/ Nürnberg. Vlado’s publications include 'UNISFA - United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei' in the Oxford Handbook of UN Peacekeeping Operations (eds. Koops et.al 2015), and 'Religion as a Response to the Experience of Immigration: The Irish Case' in Religion in Times of Crisis (Ganiel, Monnot and Winkel 2014).
Dr Karin Neutel is a fellow of the Sexuality, Gender and Multiple Modernities cluster. She is Lecturer in the Department of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins at the University of Groningen. Her research focusses on early Jewish and Christian ideas about gender, sexuality, family and community and their contemporary reception. She is particularly interested in male circumcision and the controversies surrounding this practice, both in Antiquity and today.
Dr James Noyes received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, specialising in political theory and the study of religion, and has taught this subject at the University of Nottingham and the Paris Insitute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). In addition to his work on political theory and religion, he also teaches classes at Sciences Po on warfare since the eighteenth century.
In August 2013, his work on the relationship between religious conflict and the modern state is to be published by I.B. Tauris as The Politics of Iconoclasm. On the subject of iconoclasm, he is part of an international network of experts funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by the University of Birmingham to investigate new ways of thinking about the topic.
James recently led the research and co-authored the report called Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England, in which he argued for a greater role for the Church in the provision of public services in the UK. More information on the project can be found here.
Benjamin Schewel is a fellow in the research cluster on postsecularism and political belonging. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from KU Leuven in 2014 and is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He has also held visiting positions at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford and the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University. He researches questions concerning the role of religion in the public sphere. He is beginning work on a broader project that examines the contributions that religious-ethical ideas can make to the global discourse on forced migration. His first book, entitled, Seven Narratives of Religion, is currently forthcoming with Yale University Press. He is also co-editing a collection of essays, entitled, Religion and European Society, for Wiley-Blackwell.
Stef Wittendorp is a PhD candidate in the department of International Relations at the Faculty of Arts. In his research he uses securitization theory to understand how this construction of threats occurred at the level of the European Union with regard to terrorism. In what way and through what processes and structures was terrorism dealt with? Did the actors involved highlight the political nature of the issue or did they present terrorism as a just another technicality to be deal with? Did these actors respond in a reactive manner or did they take a preventive approach instead? Moreover, by studying the timeframe of the 1970s to the present he plans to map the changes and continuities in the way actors at the EU level have engaged with the topic of terrorism.
Tahir Zaman is primarily interested in alternative socio-cultural understandings of refuge, protection and assistance during times of mass-displacement – with a particular emphasis on the significance of Islamic narratives. His PhD explored the social and cultural life-worlds of Iraqi refugees in Damascus where he undertook fieldwork in 2010 and 2011. His doctoral thesis was recently published as a book by Palgrave Macmillan under the title of Islamic traditions of refuge in the crises of Iraq and Syria. His doctoral research also critically engages with the limits and opportunities of faith-based humanitarianism. Tahir has since worked extensively with a leading peace-building and conflict transformation NGO on considering the role of Syrian Diaspora actors in responding to mass displacement and contributing towards peacebuilding.
Helge Årsheim has a PhD from the University of Oslo, where he currently works as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at The Faculty of Theology. His first book, Making Religion at the United Nations (under publication by DeGruyter), examines the genealogy and current approaches to religion at the United Nations, with a particular emphasis on four committees set to monitor international human rights treaties. He is a member of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the correspondent for Norway at the EUREL network, and founding editor of the scholarly Religion: Going Public blog. His current research explores the ways in which religion travels across different levels of governance in international and domestic legislation and jurisprudence, ranging from refugee status determination procedures to zoning regulations, prisons and the governance of indigenous peoples’ rights.
If you are interested in joining a research cluster or becoming a fellow of the Centre, please contact the director.
Christoph Grüll conducts research on the role of civil society organizations in Europe in the context of displacement. A particular focus lies on religious and faith-based organizations and the question of how these are involved in debates of cosmopolitan and state-centric approaches to justice and (forced) migration. Before starting his PhD project in 2017, he completed his MA in religious studies at the University of Groningen and his BA at the University of Hamburg. His research interests also include the relation between religion and law, the discursive study of religion, and the study of secularism.
After obtaining a Bachelor in Philosophy at the University of Groningen, Sanne Hupkes pursued a Master in Global Studies at Roskilde University and the University of Leipzig. Her research interests lie in social and political philosophy as well as in International Relations, and particularly concern peace and peacebuilding, democracy, and social ontology. Her PhD research focuses on the role of (power-sharing) democracy in peace operations and she is concerned with the place of (religious) collective identities within democracy in post-conflict societies. Case studies that are of importance for this project are for example Northern Ireland and, especially, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Jelle Wiering is a cultural anthropologist who's main interest lies in the field of religious studies. Currently, he works as a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen in a project that focuses on the intersection of religion, secularism, and sexuality in the Netherlands, and is led by Kim Knibbe. Previously, he wrote a thesis on Western Buddhists, at the University of Amsterdam, and a thesis on Dutch pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela, both of them based on empirical research.
A number of possibilities exist for students to undertake internships with the Centre, as part of an existing project or cluster, developing a new one or as part of the broader strategic planning and development of the Centre. If you are interested in undertaking an internship please contact the director.
Wouter Levinga is co-researcher on the research project ‘Working effectively with faith leaders to challenge harmful traditional practices' (HTP). In response to a call by the Department for International Development of the UK, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), set up this project. Wouter Levinga is currently enrolled in the master track Religion, Conflict, and Globalization, at the faculty of Theology and Religious studies and Cultural Geography. He received his bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies at the faculty of Arts in Groningen, for which he has spent some time in Israel and the PA. His foci are religion in Israel, the relation between religion, gender and development, conflict and religion.
Sarah Maria Philipps is a Bachelor student in International Relations and International Organization at the Faculty of Arts. And she will be supporting dr Erin Wilson in the research field Religion, Migration and Cities. Her main research interests lie in multicultural coexistence, identity politics and Orientalism. She specifically focuses on the role of religion in these contexts. As research assistant at the Faculty for Theology and Religious Studies, she currently engages in a project concerning religion, migration and cities. Relations between Western and Middle Eastern societies present a guiding theme throughout her research. Previous work includes religion in politics of formally secular countries and Islamic Banking and Finance.
Ella Sebamalai is a Master student in Religion, Conflict and Globalization at the Faculty for Theology and Religious Studies and in the program of International Security at the Faculty of Arts. Her main research interest is the leverage of Faith-based organizations to International Relations. More specifically, her research focus is the role of FBOs in the post-conflict reconstruction phase such as that of Sri Lanka.
Carine Nijenhuis is a Master student Religion, Conflict, and Globalisation at the Faculty for Theology and Religious Studies. She holds a Bachelor degree in American Studies at the Faculty of Arts, within which she specifically focused on psychology, consumerism, and International- and European law. Her research mainly focuses on conflicts concerning the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of particular research interest are human rights violations, global politics and law-making in the international sphere, psychological processes and social influence, and popular religion and commercialization. She is a former intern with the Religion and Development research cluster.
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